Educate Yourself During American Heart Month: Heart Disease 101

As a nice reminder to keep your heart healthy, February is American Heart Month. Heart disease can change your life in an instant, so it’s important to be informed about the risk factors and symptoms involved with problems like heart attack, coronary artery disease, pulmonary heart disease, and congestive heart failure.

Here is how the CDC defines heart disease:

“Heart disease is a term that includes several more specific heart conditions. The most common heart disease in the US is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD occurs when the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become hardened and narrowed due to the buildup of plaque.”

While heart disease is known to affect senior citizens, the CDC states that one in four deaths in the United States are due to heart disease. And while heart disease is the number one killer of both women and men, more than 50% of the deaths due to heart disease in 2009 were men. And for those who survive their ordeal with heart disease, there is still the risk of disability.

Here are some of the main risk factors for heart disease:

  • Diet
  • Physical Activity
  • Smoking
  • Cholesterol
  • Blood Pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Alcohol Use
  • Family History

Balancing a healthy diet, regular exercise, and managing your diabetes as suggested by your doctor are all great ways to lower your risk of heart disease. There are even some risk factors you may not even know about. For instance, according to, “cardiovascular deaths spike by about 18 % [in the winter].” But with such prevalence in the U.S., how do you know when you are having a heart attack or suffering from another form of heart disease?

There are several kinds of heart disease, but they share many symptoms such as:

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Nausea
  • Pain or a Heavy Feeling in Your Chest
  • Sweating
  • Increase in Heart Rate
  • Fainting
  • Weakness
  • Anxiety

Of course, these can also be symptoms of other issues or diseases, but if you truly think that you are having a heart attack, it’s important for you or a loved one to call 9-1-1. It’s important to act fast when every second counts.

If you have any questions about heart health, contact the medical care providers at Sherwood Oaks.

Healthy for the Holidays

Friends, family, and food! These are the cornerstones of the holiday season. But as we age and develop more of a need for a healthy diet, it can put a damper on our holiday feasting. Whether because of diabetes, heart disease, or just for overall health, the entire family can benefit from healthier substitutions at the holiday dinner table.

Diabetics need to pay close attention to their carbohydrate and sugar intake, while those concerned with heart health should look for foods that help lead to lower LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight. We went on a hunt for some of the healthiest (but most delectable) holiday recipes out there. Would you consider trying one of these good-for-you goodies this year?

Diabetic Dining:

Appetizer:  Mix together some unlikely ingredients and whip up some Apple-Nut Blue Cheese Tartlets from this award-winning Taste of Home recipe.

Main Course:  Add a twist to a classic roasted turkey with this Citrus-Roasted Turkey from Diabetic Gourmet.

Side:  No matter where you’re celebrating this season, you can add some southern charm to your Thanksgiving dinner with these Southern Green Beans.

Dessert:  These gluten-free Pumpkin Spice Muffins are also great for diabetics looking to take advantage of seasonal flavors.

Heart-Healthy Options:

Appetizer: Bring the tart taste of cranberry to your pre-dinner snack with this Braided Cranberry Bread.

Main Course: Be unique and trade turkey for pork. Try out these Maple-Thyme Pork Chops.

Side: Better Homes and Gardens offers a Heart-Healthy Cheesy Potatoes recipe sure to please the whole family!

Dessert: It’s not truly the holidays without pumpkin pie, is it? Get a little bit extra with this Maple-Apple Pecan Crunch Pumpkin Pie recipe!

Here are some general rules to follow for a healthier holiday season:

  • Look for any chance to reduce the amount of butter or oil you are using in recipes. According to Fit Sugar, avocado, prunes, Greek yogurt or applesauce can replace butter in many baked good recipes. Smart Balance Heart Right Light Buttery Spread is also a heart-healthy alternative to use in cooking and on dinner rolls.
  • Pay attention to serving sizes. The American Heart Association provides a guide for eating in moderation. One serving of cooked meat is 3 ounces, about the size of a computer mouse, while one serving of low-fat cheese is 1.5 ounces, about the size of six dice.
  • Substitute whole grain bread for white bread in your holiday stuffing.
  • More sodium = higher blood pressure. Look for ways to cut salt when possible.

Whether you plan to have friends over, visit family, or spend Thanksgiving and other upcoming holidays at Sherwood Oaks, it is very possible to have a delicious and healthy holiday meal. We serve dinner for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, with plenty of room for residents to invite friends and family. Year-round, we provide nutritious dietary options, including the option of fish as well as diabetic and gluten-free selections.

So eat up!